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A Guide to Understanding Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common ailments affecting Americans today.  90% of Americans will experience low back pain at one point or another in their lives.  Most symptoms resolve within a few days. But for those individuals who end up in the physician’s office they are usually seeking a quick fix, usually in the form of pain or anti-inflammatory medication.  Well the quick fix can be just that – quick but possibly not lasting.  What can you do to make it stick?  One simple method is to sit up straight.  Sounds simple enough but for most people, it is quite difficult to sit in proper posture for 8 hours per day or longer.

Most pain at the lumbar spine is driven from postural mal-alignments.  What I mean by this is that oftentimes we sit, stand and move in poor posture.

We basically slouch in front of the computer all day.  Then we go home and talk to our friends, not face to face, but in front of the computer using social networking sites. Americans need to move and be more active.

One way to fight back pain is to simply sit up straight.  And by sitting up straight, you will activate the spinal muscles and core muscles to fire and hence strengthen them. Eventually as those muscles get used to working it becomes easier to sit correctly without feeling fatigued and needing to slouch.

Also, we need to start exercising by doing strengthening, cardio and stretching exercises.  Core, gluteal and spinal exercises are key muscle groups to strengthen. Strengthening the lower abdominals and gluteals is a priority here at Paspa. We start simply by having our pts perform abdominal bracing/pelvic tilt exercises and we build from there. The clamshell ex for the gluteals is also given frequently here at Paspa.  These muscles are just two of the many that will help support the lumbar spine and make it easier to sit up straight.


Stretching, especially the hamstrings and hip flexors, are also important.  These two muscle groups get really tight from sitting all day..





I can’t tell you how many of my patients tell me that they do not have the time to exercise.  The long working hours, commuting time and childcare all make it difficult to find time for YOU. Well, as a full time working mother with two children, I can sympathize but I do not give anyone a pass.  I personally find the time to exercise because it is important to me.  The first step is to make it a priority in our life.  I wake up early (trust me I hate getting up early) and go for a run 4x per week.  Most nights, just before bed, I take 5-10 minutes to do a few stretches and strengthening exercises.

If you really cannot do anything M-F, how about starting on the weekends.  Exercise on Saturday and Sunday or use your lunch hour to go for a walk.  If you start to move your body it will thank you.  You will feel better, have more energy and most importantly, have less back pain.

For more information on back pain and the appropriate exercises to perform contact us and we will be glad to answer your questions.

Pam Paspa and the Staff at Paspa Physical Therapy

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